Forever Free

October 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads)

freeForever Free by Joe Haldeman

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UGH.

Let me repeat: UGH.

Forever Free is a bit of a hot mess of a book. It’s supposed to be a sequel to The Forever War, but it actually feels less like one than Forever Peace, which isn’t even tangentially related. Like Forever Peace, it starts off as one story and then shifts into something else. Also like Forever Peace, it feels like Haldeman started writing with one idea in mind, but with no clear direction, and just wrote to see where it would take him. The results are less than impressive.

I’m not sure why this was written as a sequel, either, when it could have easily been adapted to be a standalone book, like Forever Peace. There are only a handful of plot points that require The Forever War, and they’re so small that Haldeman, with some effort, could have written them as new points in a new story. Instead, we get Forever Free, which not only isn’t a good book, but it also tarnishes the reputation of its predecessor. I can’t say why without giving away the ending, but trust me: The hand-waving that comes in at the end of the book is its own deus ex machina to get Haldeman out of a hole.

I read the ebook edition of the novel, and was disappointed at the number of typos and OCR errors. The worst was probably “home” appearing in place of “homo” in every instance of the book, but it wasn’t the only one I saw. I wish companies would spend more time with copy-editing their books, but this was a bargain book, so I guess my expectations shouldn’t be so high.

The only thing that saves this book from being one star is Haldeman’s style. It’s clean and direct, and runs the risk of being dry when he’s talking military details, but his characterization is good, and his plots, when he uses them, are tense. The ending to this story, though, is horrible. It’s Son of Rosemary levels of horrible, too, and if you don’t know my feelings on that book yet, let me just say it’s the only book I wouldn’t hesitate to set on fire. Like Son of Rosemary, what makes Forever Free so bad is that it was actually a tense, intriguing story until the author chose to write the ending he did. It’s so disappointing.

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